Letting Go of Opinions

After a very rough 3 months of my life, I’m going to dare saying that the source of all arguments is a difference of opinion. When two people are in a relationship, and each person has a fundamental belief (or opinion of how things should be) which differs from their partner’s belief, there is bound to be sparks, and not the good sparks. I don’t believe it is wrong/bad for us to have opposing opinions, that’s what makes life as colourful as it is. It is how we work through these opinions together that determines the success or strength of that relationship.

The problem is that in the heat of the moment, when emotion steps in and logic steps out, we will hold onto our opinion for life or death. Emotions disarm our reasonable logical brain. My theory right now is that in certain types of relationships it’s easier to keep the emotions down, but with loved ones, be it friends, family or our lovers, it becomes much harder. I’ll use my story to explain…

I’m working backward in history, starting last week. I had a couple of hard conversations with my team and individuals in my team at work last week. Where there are areas I believe they need to improve on, I raised my opinion, and then took a step back and started asking questions. At no point did I force my opinion down onto them, or try convince them I’m right, I just asked questions. Keep my emotions calm, breathe, state my view and the facts I base it on, and then ask questions. I know I’m repeating “ask questions” multiple times, but this is the fundamental change that gave me different results. There were a couple of different results from this process:

  • The person(s) would eventually come to the same realisation as I had, i.e. buy into my opinion
  • The person(s) would come up with an opinion neither of us had that works for both of us
  • I would gain better clarity of why the person(s) have their opinion and we both find common grounds to achieve an agreed result
  • I had to repeat the words “don’t force your opinion” multiple times in each of these sessions. Why does this work? Because when we’re both forcing our individual opinions, we create resistance and we end up moving nowhere.

    Now let’s go another week back, to my most recent break up. We have very different views of how many people we want in our lives, how close we want them to get to us, how we interact with them, and biggest of all, how much dependance/interdependence there is on each other in our relationship. Today I wish I could have had that conversation with the clarity I had it with my work colleagues, but even while saying it I have no idea if it would have changed anything. We had argument after argument about the same thing, his opinion vs. mine, a battle to death. We really tried from different angles, different approaches, but at some point either one of us would loose our cool and once the emotions set in it becomes a blame game.

    I don’t believe all opinions can be won over, or middle grounds found for. Certain things are part of who we are, and giving these things up could mean lots of unhappiness and resentment later. So will I go into a new relationship and try this approach to gain insight on and/or find middle ground on opinions. No I won’t. My mitigating action to this is to define very clear boundaries for myself and what I’m willing to negotiate on and what not. With each new potential relationship these boundaries will get tested, and where I find that my boundaries aren’t acceptable to the other person, I will have to make the call up front whether I’m willing to shift it or move on and let the person go.

    Again, it sounds simple, but when we’re in love and butterflies are filling the stomach, it’s not that easy. But for me, the amount of heartache and pain I’ve just been through is enough to let me have a little discomfort initially and rather ending what can become another war early on. It seems cold, but my first priority in life is me. I can’t serve anyone else if I’m emotionally beaten up every day.

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